EAC and TradeMark Africa Unveil Innovative App to Revolutionise Trade by Eliminating Non-Tariff Barriers

Kilimokwanza.org Team

Bujumbura, Burundi

In a move to bolster regional trade, the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat, in collaboration with TradeMark Africa, today launched an innovative mobile application designed to dismantle Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) – the EAC NTBs App.

This pioneering application promises to transform the trade landscape of the region by simplifying the reporting, monitoring, and resolution of challenges faced by traders operating across borders. The development of the EAC NTBs App was made possible through funding provided by the Netherlands via TradeMark Africa.

Combining SMS, email, and phone reporting features, the EAC NTBs App is a comprehensive solution for the effective reporting of trade-related Non-Tariff Barriers. It aims to assist traders and producers in addressing issues that affect their trade efficiency and competitiveness. The app also promises transparency and swift resolution of problems by involving various technical and policy mechanisms, including National Focal Points, the National Monitoring Committees (NMCs), and the Regional Monitoring Committee (RMC).

At the launch event, Ms. Annette Ssemuwemba, EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Customs, Trade and Monetary Affairs, emphasized the significance of the app in creating a seamless trading environment across the EAC region. She noted the app’s role in empowering traders and producers by providing a unified platform to address and resolve NTBs.

The Deputy Secretary General highlighted the crucial importance of removing NTBs in promoting a more efficient and equitable trade environment. She identified procedural complexities and administrative hurdles as typical barriers that hinder the smooth flow of goods and services across borders.

Benedict Musengele, Director of Trade Policy and Trade Facilitation at TradeMark Africa, also emphasized the organization’s commitment to developing a vibrant trade environment conducive to economic growth and regional integration. He described the app as a strategic solution in the realm of digital trade.

NTBs have long been a challenge for traders and producers, reducing profits and limiting market access. The EAC has made significant progress in this area, resolving 89.5% of reported NTBs since 2017, according to the EAC Time Bound Programme report of 2023.

The EAC NTBs App supports reporting in English, Swahili, and French and is available for download on the Apple Store, Google’s Play Store, and other Android platforms. This app is a major step towards enhancing the business environment in the region and effectively resolving NTBs.

The Road to The APP

The East Africa Community (ESC) has introduced a new app called the NTB reporting app to address non-tariff barriers (NTBs) that hinder the movement of goods within our borders. This app makes reporting and monitoring of NTBs much easier. As a result of various trade facilitation initiatives, intra-ESC trade has increased by 13.4%, from $65 billion US in 2021 to $74.1 billion in 2022, accounting for 15% of total trade.

The resolution rate of NTBs within the ESC has reached above 90%, and the time taken to resolve NTBs has reduced to approximately 76 days. However, many micro and small entrepreneurs who cross borders face challenges due to NTBs, which are a significant barrier to free trade in the region.

To address this issue, the ESC has introduced a mobile application to ease the monitoring and reporting of NTBs. This app has been adopted by the Sector Council on Trade and covers various categories, including administrative issues, import bans, rules of origin issues, import licensing, lengthy custom procedures, poor testing facilities, administrative fees, and more. If your specific complaint is not listed, you can select “other” to provide details.

The NTB reporting app aims to reduce reporting delays and eliminate NTBs. It is hosted and managed by the ESC, ensuring a central point for reporting and monitoring NTBs. Users’ anonymity and data protection are guaranteed, as only NTB complaint details will be accessible.

To increase the app’s usage, it is crucial to raise awareness and provide capacity-building programs for small business owners. Partner states and private sector players are encouraged to utilize the NTB Hub to report trade barriers effectively.

The ESC expresses gratitude to Trademark Africa for its support in developing the app and other trade facilitation initiatives. Trademark Africa is willing to help partner states develop SMS tools for reporting NTBs.

You can download the NTB reporting app from Google Play Store or Apple Store

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